The Recipe of a Food Poisoning Lawsuit
Every year, 1 in 6 Americans, or 48 million people, suffer from food poisoning. Of those 48 million people, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from foodborne disease. If you or one of your loved ones has suffered from food poisoning, you may be able to recover for your damages.
What is Food Poisoning?
People get food poisoning by eating food containing bacteria or viruses. After eating food containing these bacteria or viruses, they may suffer from nausea, vomiting, watery diarrhea, abdominal pain, cramps, and fever.
The most typical food poisoning cases are relatively minor, and people recover within a week or slightly more. However, in more severe cases, victims can be hospitalized, and it may result in serious injuries.
Certain types of victims may be more at risk than others, like young children, elderly persons, those who are already ill, and pregnant women. Treatments for food poisoning include hospitalizations, medication, and a more extended recovery period.
Certain bacteria and viruses, like e Coli, salmonella, norovirus, and listeria, cause food poisoning more than others. While any food can become contaminated, certain types of food such as meats, poultry, eggs, dairy products, and leafy green vegetables pose a higher risk for food poisoning.
How to Sue for Food Poisoning
Victims can bring their claims for food poisoning under three general areas of law.
1. Strict product liability
Many states have laws that remove the victim’s burden to prove the manufacturer or supplier messed up in the production or distribution. In these states, victims merely need to show the food was contaminated, and the contamination caused the food poisoning.
Victims may also be able to argue the defendant’s acted irresponsibly in manufacturing or supplying the contaminated food. To prove this, the victim must show the defendant was not reasonable or did not act in a manner an average defendant would have in the manufacturing or supplying the food.
3. Breach of Warranties
Many states have minimum standards that manufacturers and suppliers must meet when handling certain products. These standards are known as implied warranties, and the contamination of food will likely constitute a violation of these warranties. Furthermore, the contamination may also violate any promises made by the food processor. These promises are known as express guarantees and can be as simple as a company promising to triple-wash their products.
Damages Recoverable For a Food Poisoning Lawsuit
The damages available for a food poisoning lawsuit include pain and suffering, medical costs, and any lost wages.
Who Can You Sue for Food Poisoning?
Victims can sue all parties involved in the chain of distribution, including all parties who have handled the food. The chain of distribution includes the food processing company, suppliers, wholesalers, distributors, and retailers.
It is prudent for the victim to include all the parties above in the initial lawsuit. If one party is not liable, they can argue their position in court.
Class Action Food Poisoning Lawsuits
When a large outbreak of contaminated food occurs, there may be a large number of victims. In this situation, victims may file a class-action lawsuit, and all those harmed by the contaminated food may join the class. An example of past class-action lawsuits includes the ConAgra lawsuit for the salmonella-contaminated peanut butter.
Step-By-Step Litigation of a Food Poisoning Case
Step 1 - Keeping track of medical records
You begin the process of a food poisoning case as any other personal injury case, by filing a lawsuit. With this in mind, it is helpful to record any medical treatment you have had and any other consequences from your injury. Keep track of your doctor visits, days missed from work, and lost wages. Tracking this information is much easier than backtracking to figure out this information later on.
Step 2 - Finding a lawyer
The next step in a food poisoning case is finding a lawyer to advocate for you. When looking for a lawyer, don’t just type into Google “personal injury lawyer.” It’s just too broad. You want expertise specifically within the product liability, and specifically the food poisoning space. Ideally, it would be great to find a lawyer who has already tried a case similar to your specific situation.
Step 3 - filing The Lawsuit
As the lawsuit moves along, your involvement will be minimal. Once the case is filed, the discovery stage comes next, during which your attorney will receive requests for information from the defendant’s attorney. Many times, your attorney will be contacting you to collect the information required to respond. The victim’s family may have to attend a deposition, where the other side will ask questions about the accident and the decedent’s death and injuries.
Step 4 - Negotiation, Settlement, and Trial
Next, the two sides will begin negotiating with hopes of a settlement, but patience is required as this can take time. Your attorney is required to bring you any settlement proposal the defendant offers. If the parties cannot settle, they may choose to go to mediation or arbitration for a third party to help resolve the case. A trial is held if all else fails.
Finding The Right Lawyer For Your Food Poisoning Case
Lawsuits can be extremely emotional for the victim. Most personal injury law firms handle food poisoning cases, making picking an attorney difficult because there are so many options. Your attorney will be your go-to person until the case is over for legal questions and often as someone to lean on. Attorneys often say they have two jobs, to be their client’s attorney and therapist. Therefore, it is essential to pick an attorney you feel comfortable with and that you can trust.